ZAMBOANGA CITY – At least 3 soldiers and a militiaman were killed in fierce clashes Tuesday with Abu Sayyaf militants in the restive province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said the fighting erupted in Tuburan town where security forces are pursuing the militants who pledged allegiance with the Islamic State. One civilian was also wounded after being hit by stray bullets during the fighting.
No other details of the clashes were immediately available, but the military previously captured 2 Abu Sayyaf encampments in Tipo-Tipo town and claimed to have killed at least 45 militants – although no cadavers had been recovered – in a month-long operation in the province that also left more a dozen soldiers injured.
There were no reports about the Abu Sayyaf hostages in Basilan – five Malaysian tugboat crew members kidnapped off Sabah recently – and 10 Indonesian sailors in Sulu, who were also abducted near the Philippine border and that they were brought to the provinces.
The military said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf were continuing in the provinces.
The clashes also coincided with an Abu Sayyaf grenade attack on the residence of Catholic priests in the village of Kakuyagan in Sulu’s Jolo town. No one was reported injured in the attack carried out by two men riding tandem on a motorbike.
The Abu Sayyaf has been fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state, but it is also notorious in ransom kidnappings and murders of innocent civilians, mostly Christians, in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)
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